Saturday, April 10, 2010

Madison Park boundaries: Redfin falls into line, the City balks

You can chalk up another victory for Madison Park in the Battle of the Maps. National real estate website Redfin reports that it has changed its definition of our neighborhood to include all of Washington Park within the boundaries of Madison Park (that’s their new map to the right). Banished from Redfin’s thinking is the silly idea that much of Washington Park is located in the non-existent Harrison/Denny-Blaine neighborhood. As we reported earlier this year, Zillow was the first to change its map of our area to recognize all of Washington Park as an integral part of the Madison Park neighborhood. That leaves the City of Seattle as the only holdout among those entities who were asked to correct their maps.

It’s the City of Seattle, after all, which perpetuates the myth of a Harrison/Denny-Blaine neighborhood. As regular readers of this blog well know, the “unofficial” map of Seattle neighborhoods not only designates much the area south of E. Lee Street as not being in Madison Park, but it cedes that territory to the mythical community. Yes, there is a Denny-Blaine neighborhood to the south of us, but no Harrison/Denny-Blaine neighborhood has ever existed in the history of the City. And the area around the Seattle Tennis Club has certainly always been a part of Madison Park. But that’s not the City’s view:

Unfortunately, since there is no correct “official” neighborhood map, the “unofficial” map is used as a guide by mapmakers, Google, shopping sites, the news media, and other third parties. Madison Park is therefore often shown in an incorrect, truncated form. This is what most of think Madison Park looks like:

This is what the City (unofficially) thinks:

The Madison Park Community Council (MPCC) felt strongly enough about this issue to send a letter to the City asking that the neighborhood map be corrected. So far, the City is not budging. MPCC President Ken Myrabo told me he started with the Department of Neighborhoods, who referred him on to the City Clerk’s office. It’s the City Clerk who is responsible for the City’s neighborhood map, which is supposedly only utilized for filing purposes. Myrabo said he was told that changing the map would be too expensive--and besides it’s not an “official” map anyway. So why the concern?

I spoke this week with Carol Shenk of the Office of the City Clerk. She told me that the office receives four or five requests to change the neighborhood map each year, but they’re sticking with what they have. She noted that the City spent months working on the original map ten or fifteen years ago. But did the City ask anyone in Madison Park about it? She is sure that the City didn't. But she did remember that historical records had been consulted, as well as neighborhood and development maps. Apparently, however, not the map of the MPCC, which certainly existed at the time the City drew Madison Park’s “unofficial” boundaries.

Shenk admits that the map is “arbitrary,” but adds that “we just can’t be in the business of responding to every group’s request for changes.” For one thing, she said, her department has over 600,000 on-line documents, many of which would have to be re-indexed to reflect any changes to the neighborhood map. “We’re already understaffed and overwhelmed,” she told me.

Nevertheless, Shenk said she was willing to listen to Madison Park’s arguments and recommend changing the map if we can make a good case. Just don’t expect any action in the immediate future, she told me. “Perhaps volunteers from Madison Park would be willing to help re-index the documents?” she asked.

I don’t think her question was rhetorical.

[Those interested in reading more about the history of this issue can find it exhaustively covered here.]

1 comment:

  1. Since the neighborhoods are part of the city of Seattle, why isn't the city officials definition of the neighborhoods "official"? Who is more official? And why?


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